601 SQUADRON - Fighter, Hawker Hurricane Mk I
History | Operations and losses | Sources | Links | Books | Questions and/or remarks
A Royal Auxillary Air Force Squadron, 601 was the so-called 'millionaires squadron' of the RAF
In January 1939 601 Squadron began to receive Blenheims Mk IF. It was with these the fighter patrols began when World War Two broke out in September 1939.
No. 601 Squadron was in action on the day war was declared, when 12 pilots were alerted to intercept an 'intruder' over Knole Park. The 'intruder' turned out to be the distant sound of a refrigerator motor. On their return to base the squadron's Blenheims were mistakenly identified as German bombers and fired upon by the station's anti-aircraft guns, but no one was injured.
In March 1940 the squadron had converted to Hurricanes. During the German invasion of France, a detachment operated from French soil for a week, followed by defensive duties during the Battle of Britain while based in southern England.
When No.601 flew in to Biggin Hill, the affluent pilots had little regard for the rigid discipline of the regular service. They were immediately regarded as rivals by No. 32 Squadron who challenged them to a game of polo on their old motor cycles. The boys of 601, using a stable of brand new Brough Superiors, easily won their first battle at 'The Bump'. The 'Millionaire's Mob' as they have come to be known, wear blue ties rather than black, and line their service tunics with bright red silk.
Almost every pilot owns his own private aircraft, among the best is an Aeronca G-ADZZ high wing monoplane belonging to John William Maxwell Aitkin. Max is the son of the 'Beaver' , Lord Beaverbrook, the dynamic owner of the Daily Express and the minister in charge of Aircraft Production. He was the Squadron C/O until posted away on July the 20th 1940
Among its members was also Whitney Straight, who was medically unfit (due to injuries he suffered in the Norwegian campaign) until late September but who became Managing Director of B.O.A.C. after the war.
The first American to give his life in the Battle of Britain was Pilot Officer William M.L. Fiske of No. 601 Squadron. Fiske was a graduate of Cambridge University and a leading personality in the American bob sleigh teams that won the Olympic championships in 1928 and 1932. he died in hospital on 17 August 1940 after bringing back his damaged Hurricane to Tangmere.
Also with No. 601 Squadron was Flying Officer Carl R. Davis, one of a small number of Americans who had seen active service with he RAF before the Battle of Britain. He had taken part in the attack on the German seaplane base at Borkum on 28 November 1939.
Tangmere 17 June 1940
Debden 19 August 1940
Tangmere 2 September 1940
Exeter 7 September 1940
Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 31/05/1940
Not all operations listed; those with losses are (except polots taken PoW).
20/05/1940: ?, F, 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA
27/05/1940: ?, B, 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA
20/05/1940: ?, F
Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, UF-?
Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) Michael F. Peacock, RAF 90124, 601 Sqdn., DFC, age 28, 20/05/1940, Arras Communal Cemetery, F
According to Peter Cornwell this was Squadron Leader M.F. Peacock, flying with 85 Squadron. See the 85 Squadron, 20/05/1940
27/05/1940: ?, B
Type: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
Serial number: ?, UF-?
Flying Officer (Pilot) Charles A. Lee Steere, RAF 90129, 601 Sqdn., age 29, 27/05/1940, Oostkerke Communal Cemetery, B
No. 601 Fighter
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
David Alan Johnson: The Battle of Britain: The American Connection
RAF Battle of Britain - 601 Squadron
Battle of Britain.net - 601 Squadron
Battle of Britain - American Pilots
Obituary General Stanislaw Skalski (Telegraph, 16/11/2004)
RAF - Campaign Diary - The Battle of France (May-June 1940)
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
Royal Air Force History Section
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
The Second World War - a day by day account
War over Holland
J R Bushby 'Gunner's moon' (At Notting Hill Gate) (Ian Allen 1972)
Airwar over Denmark
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
De Belgen in Engeland 1940-1945 (in Dutch)
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
Czechoslovak airmen in
the RAF 1940-1945
Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
'High flight', poem by John Gillespie Magee
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, poem by W.B. Yeats
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
Luchtoorlog ('Arial War', in Dutch, with many photos)
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association
Nordic Aviation during WW2
Pilotfriend.com: aircraft of WW2
Polish Air Force 1940-1947 Operations Record Books
RAF Battle of Britain
De Slag om de Grebbeberg (Dutch)
World War II Aircraft wrecksites in Norway
The Aerodrome -
Aces and Aircraft of World War 1
This page is dedicated to the men of 601 Squadron.
© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/index.html